Barnes tossed three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two in Wednesday night's 11-7 win over the Giants. The Red Sox were on the verge of blowing an eight-run lead when Barnes entered in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, no outs, and Boston clinging to an 8-7 lead. He got a double-play grounder and foul out to extricate the Red Sox from that jam, then held the Giants at bay the next two innings. The outing continues a nice stretch for the right-hander, who has a 1.56 ERA with a 17:2 K:BB ratio over his last 12 appearances, spanning 17.1 innings. As the Red Sox cope with injuries in the bullpen, Barnes has earned the confidence and trust of manager John Farrell. He may not get any save opportunities while Craig Kimbrel (knee) and Koji Uehara (pectoral muscle) are out -- Brad Ziegler is the primary closer while they rehab -- but Barnes has earned a chance to pitch in high-leverage situations.
Barnes pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Boston's 4-1 win over the Rays on Saturday. He's made three straight scoreless appearances. Red Sox manager John Farrell will have to rely on Barnes as he attempts to manage the turbulence in a bullpen that's been hit with injuries to Junichi Tazawa (shoulder) and Craig Kimbrel (knee). Farrell has recently shown more faith in Barnes, who has whittled his ERA from 3.64 to 2.93 over the last 10 appearances (14 strikeouts, two walks, 12.1 innings). He may be able steal a save opportunity during the time Kimbrel is on the DL (three-to-six weeks), but the Red Sox will settle for keeping his walks down and providing stability in a set up role.
Barnes allowed one run on four hits while striking out four over 2.2 innings in Friday night's win over the Rangers. The Red Sox had many heroes in overcoming the 6-0 hole that starter David Price put them in, but a comeback would not have been possible if not for the work of their beleaguered bullpen. And that started with Barnes, keeping them in the game from the third to fifth inning. He's primarily a middle-inning guy who can give Boston length when needed -- he's tossed 6.2 innings his last three appearances -- and can dial up the fastball. If he limits the homers and can locate more consistently, Barnes will make a living in this role.
Barnes pitched a perfect ninth inning Tuesday, striking out two in Boston's 8-3 win over Colorado. Coming in for a clean inning with a five-run lead is pretty low-leverage stuff, but Barnes was impressive Tuesday, hitting 99 mph on the gun while mowing down the heart of the Rockies' order on two Ks and a weak come-backer. The right-hander has been entrusted in more high-leverage spots of late -- he's stranded all but one of 14 inherited runners -- and has not allowed a run in eight of his last 10 appearances. At a time when Boston learned it will be without Carson Smith (Tommy John surgery) for the rest of the season, manager John Farrell is expected to lean more on Barnes for setup work.
Barnes entered Sunday's game in the fourth inning and pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk in a 7-5 extra-inning win over Houston. Boston's unreliable starting pitching reared itself again Sunday -- this time, it was Henry Owens failing to get out of the fourth -- requiring the bullpen to shoulder a heavy load. Barnes' performance has been uneven to start the season. Overall, he's allowed five runs (three earned) on 12 hits and six walks in 10.1 innings, and has had difficulty staying around the plate, throwing 55 percent of his pitches for strikes. That's not good for the long-term sustainability of a reliever, even one that can throw in the mid-to-high 90s.